Better Buses for Greater Manchester march from Stagecoach to hand in their 11,000 strong petition to Andy Burnham
Save The Date: Friday January 3rd, 12:30pm
· March begins at Stagecoach, Hyde Road Depot
· Petition Hand-In at 1:45pm at GMCA, Churchgate House, 56 Oxford St, Manchester M1 6EU
Campaigners for Better Buses will lead a march from ‘stingy Stagecoach’ to Andy Burnham’s office on Friday 3rd January. A handmade bus will lead the group to hand in their petition, with a greedy bus shareholder fatcat joining them at the back. The group are calling for buses to be improved and brought back into public control. The march and petition hand-in is planned for the last week of the consultation on the future of Greater Manchester’s buses, which is the last stage before Mayor Andy Burnham makes his decision.
The march is also taking place the day after at least one large operator is increasing its fares regionally. First is increasing the price of its Single Adult Fare by 46%. Stagecoach is increasing the cost of its day riders, seven-day, 28-day and Xtra tickets. (1)
Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s proposed franchising scheme, out to consultation now, outlines that franchising, otherwise known as public control, would deliver ‘economic benefits valued at £345m compared to benefits of £113m for the Operator Proposed Partnership’. It would also create 57 new jobs. (2)
Currently, local authorities have no control over the fares and routes of around 80% of bus services in Greater Manchester. This is despite the fact that some 40% of bus companies’ revenue is public money. (3) The franchising proposal document outlines that franchising ‘would also enable higher environmental standards for buses to be introduced as quickly as possible.’ (4)
Polling done by the Local Government Association showed that 69% of residents ‘think local councils should be the main decision-makers on bus services’, bolstering campaigners’ calls for publicly controlled bus services. (5)
In the bus operators’ partnership proposals, bus companies say they will not run bus services if they ‘are commercially not viable’, meaning unprofitable for them. Research by bus company Abellio just in the last few weeks showed that 95% of people in GM supported the idea of subsidising bus routes which are unprofitable but necessary for the public good: ‘a key feature of a franchised bus network’. (6)
The ‘Doing Buses Differently’ consultation which opened on Monday 14th October is huge progress on bus reform as it is the final stage before Andy Burnham makes his decision on whether to bring buses into public control.
As the consultation comes to a close, Pascale Robinson from Better Buses for Greater Manchester highlighted:
“We are marching to Andy Burnham’s office to remind him who he is making this decision for. We as citizens of Greater Manchester and passengers, the 11,000 of us who have signed the petition, want our buses to be brought back into public control because we’re sick and tired of unreliable and expensive buses that don’t run after 6pm. We deserve what London has: good, affordable buses we can control.
“We hope Andy makes the right call. If he does, we’ll finally have a local public transport system that works for people, not profit.”
If Burnham makes a final decision to go for public control at the end of the process, this will be the first time any local authority has done so since Margaret Thatcher deregulated all buses outside of London in the 1980s. London’s buses were never deregulated and London bus use has doubled since the time of deregulation. By contrast, in Greater Manchester, bus use has declined by 40%. (7)
Notes for editors:
1) See the price of Adult singles
How much your train, tram and bus fares are rising by in the New Year (Manchester Evening News)
2) See Greater Manchester Bus franchising Consultation Document Page 24+ page. 26
page. 24 and page.13, https://issuu.com/greatermcr/docs/greater_manchester_bus_franchising_consultation_do